Skip to content


    Exciting News for WebMD Members!

    We've been busy behind the scenes building new message boards for you. You'll have new and easier ways to find messages, connect with others, and share your stories.

    And, this will all be available on your smartphone or other mobile device!

    What Do You Need to Do?

    The message board you're used to will be closing in the coming weeks. While many of your boards will be making the move to our new home, your posts will not. Want to keep a discussion going? Save posts you want to continue (this includes your member profile story), so that you can re-post them in the new message boards.

    Keep an eye here and on your email inbox, we'll be back in touch soon to give you all the information you need!

    Yours in health,
    WebMD Message Boards Management

    spinal fusion
    An_257415 posted:
    am 71 yrs and have chronic pain from back sur i had in 98. I now control my pain through 30 mg oxyco and lead a reasonably enjoyable life. My pain management doctor and my primary PHY think I should have a spinal fusion which would require performed in two areas of spine. What if this goes badly, i had a second opin and was informed that i would probably be on pain meds rest of life. Where is the op benefit. Someone please give me a reason for this op..Doc position is there is chance i could come off meds and that is my pain management doctor speaking. I may not live beyond 85 but i do not want to be hobbled and bed ridden, walker, wheelchair, someone give me a reason. What is going on here is a rush to op and I am extremely afraid, terrified better word. I do not see the benefit for me, do you. I walk daily, work out with ten lb wgt. weight down, off all diabetic meds, sugar levels under control..the primary goal of this op is to maybe get me off meds, and one doctor has said (above) Let me see, doctors afraid I may be addicted, well I been on meds for 9 yrs, do not get a high, but do get relief..I need a reason, if this goes badly, doctor has said I may have to take more meds than I taking now, REALLY!!!! all I need is a reason people, but that aside I have made my own decision with help of spouse, NO I WILL NOT HAVE THIS OPERATION!!! I would like some responses, opinions count. Neuro wants to op - 2nd opin by ortho and he said he would prefer i get injections (series of three) and if that does not stop pain, he see no reason for surgery. The neuro said I quote"we just have to pray alot", really. Bottom line I feel I am being pushed into this to justify the pain meds, so much fear of DEA today doctors feel have to justify their every decision. pain 7 to 10..I would rather suffer some on meds than be in a whcr or just not get around..
    annette030 responded:
    I vote for seeing another doctor and getting a third opinion. See a doctor who does a lot of this type of surgery, be clear that if he suggests surgery, you have a doctor to do it for you, and that you are just consulting him for his opinion.

    Best of luck to you.

    Take care, Annette
    mrpozjb responded:
    Sorry you are having this trouble. I may be having this metronics neurostimulator, done in a few weeks. I also understand that their are two other companies doing the neurostimulator. Also holly cross hospital in ft lauderdale Florida is having another company doing free testing for neurostimulator but one cannot be over 75 years old and I am over that so I don't qualify. But good luck to you.
    77grace responded:
    Hi and Welcome ,
    I can empathize with you and not only your pain but the whole surgery thing !!!
    I have had 2 neck surgeries and you reminded me that it did not help the pain that much !
    I agree you need another opinion and also I was wondering what is your spinal problem and is surgery something that they think you must have or is it elective ??
    Anyway ,I hope you feel better and like you say if the medication helps and you lead a enjoyable life ,I think that 's the answer !Don't fix it ,if It is not broken !
    Blessings 77grace
    ctbeth responded:
    Dear anon,

    Spinal fusion surgery should be performed for one reason, and this one reason only:

    It is performed to stabilize an unstable vertebral column.

    Many times, once this stabilization occurs, it relieves pressure on the spinal nerve roots and pain relief is the consequence.

    I have multi- level fusion stabilizing my cervical and lumbar spine.

    Immediately after my lumbar spine fusion, the pain relief was significant, although existing damage the spinal cord cannot, with our current technology, be regenerated or relieved.

    The c spine fusion was also not an elective procedure. The surgery has fused quite well, but I'm left with significant pain.

    If you've not been evaluated by a neurosurgeon, please do so.

    You did say that you don't want the surgery no matter what, but you're asking us for responses and opinions, so you' may have not made up your mind. That's a good thing.

    The more information that you get regarding spinal fusion surgery, the better decision that you will make.

    Good luck,,

    An_257453 responded:
    !I am sorry you are having to make this decision. I have had six back surgeries over a period of thirty years that only gave short term relief. I always said I would never have another back surgery, but I had my last one in 2013. In my opinion I don't think the surgery will help that much especially if you are managing with meds. Not to get political, but with Obama-care in place, most doctors are afraid to prescribe too many narcotics it would bring a DEA would audit.

    I am managing my pain with meds and a spinal cord stimulator (that offers little relief). Now I am being told I have to get off of one of my pain meds due to new Obama-care regulations. So I have to make a decision whether to stop going to a doctor that I have gone to for thirty years and change to a pain clinic, or go back to suffering with chronic back pain.
    I was told once," you know why they call it Back Surgery? It's because you have to keep going back".

    Good luck with your decision!!!!!
    annette030 replied to An_257453's response:
    What Obama care regulations specifically are causing you to get off of one of your pain meds? Just wondering.

    Take care, Annette
    fredstan replied to annette030's response:
    Don't know if I can blame Obamacare but my insurance company came out with a huge list of what they call "non-preferred" drugs. The list includes oxycontin. They won't pay for it anymore and they suggest morphine sulfate which they will cover. I hate the morphine sulphate. It's not working for me.
    cweinbl responded:
    I've had degenerative disc disease that manifested in herniated discs beginning at age 17, from a congenital disorder called central canal stenosis. For 10 years, I tried every possible treatment for chronic pain, including biofeedback, TENS, acupuncture, PT kinesiotherapy, injections, rhyzotomy, etc. I waited until I could tolerate the pain no longer and then I had surgery after surgery after surgery after surgery. My 4th included multilevel fusion.

    I believed the physicians when they said that the success rate was "80% or higher." Long after all of my 4 failed spine surgeries, I conducted my own extensive research. The REAL success rate is much closer to 60%; fusion is lower than that. And with each failure, you grow more and more fibrosis (scar tissue). My last myelogram resembled a road map of New Jersey, with fibrosis everywhere, including some that impinged my spinal nerve roots. That's in addition to the extensive spinal nerve root damage that I received during my surgeries and the collapsed vertebra that resulted.

    If there is a chance (likelihood?) that you'll need opioid medications WITH spine surgery, what do you hope to gain? You might be better off using the opioids (assuming they help) and bypassing the nerve root damage that virtually always goes with spine surgery.

    Finally, spinal fusion is the most damaging, lowest success rate of all spine surgeries. Take a long look at this - the most comprehensive research on all forms of spine interventions, here:;12;699-802.pdf .

    The research shows that the long term (12-month) success rate for spinal fusion is between 40% and 60%. Do you want to bet the rest of your life on those odds?

    Spinal fusion should be the last resort option, after you have tried the spinal cord stimulator and after you have tried the intrathecal infusion pump. Please, do not risk the rest of your life unless you know it's needed and you've tried EVERYTHING else. Don't end up like me: forced from my university position into retirement at age 51 - forced to be horizontal virtually all of the time for the rest of my life.
    77grace replied to cweinbl's response:
    Hi cewinbl ,
    I have seen several of your posts xince I've been here on this site but I never realized all tha tyou have been through!
    Wow ,you have definatly been through the wringer !
    Great to have you here and thans for all your wonderful input to those who need it !
    I too suffer from chronic neck and back pain (for over 25 years ) My tolerance is shot and I was wondering what do you take for pain ??
    Take care ,77grace
    ayla930 replied to An_257453's response:
    I have been in pain management since my 2nd surgery in 2000and at my current pain management facility since 2008. From the letter I received from them several months ago, Obama- care is definitely having an effect on them too. I have built up to a pretty high dose of opiates and go through procedures, both cervical and lumbar on a bi-yearly basis and am finally able to at least make it through a day at work without being in tears (most of the time), only to be told that now my meds will have to be reduced to less than have of what I am currently prescribed due to new FDA regulations, which I haven't had any luck in finding. I am sorry to say that even if you are forced into a pain management clinic (which mine has been incredible up to now), don't be surprised if you have to come off of, or greatly the pain meds that help you to make your life at least bearable. Is is a very sad day indeed when our government feels they can manage chronic pain patients better than pain management specialists can. They don't have a clue what each individual suffers with on a daily basis. I am sorry, but how dare they???
    ayla930 replied to fredstan's response:
    Fortunately morphine sulphate has worked very well for me. Unfortunately, according to my Pain Management physician, there are new guidelines (which I have not been able to locate) that state that the total of all medications will have to be less than the equivalent of 200 mg morphine. My current dose of MSC is 300 mg per day, and that doesn't include the muscle relaxers, Neurontin, etc. I don't have any idea how I am going to be able to make it through a day. It's hard enough as it is.
    annette030 replied to fredstan's response:
    Blame your insurance company, not Obamacare. Insurance companies have non-preferred drug lists that often change, the one connected with my husband's old employer did the same thing years before Obamacare was even thought of.

    Take care, Annette
    mrpozjb replied to An_257453's response:
    An---Is your spinal cord stimularor made by Metronics> I am having that company install an external one in about 10 days. So I am curious to know.

    Jerry B.

    Featuring Experts

    Peter Abaci, MD , is certified in anesthesia and pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Abaci received his undergraduate educat...More

    Helpful Tips

    neck/skull pain
    I have exactly the same pain problem from the sound of it. Does it feel like a hot slicing pain in the neck and an irritated nerve running ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    0 of 2 found this helpful

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.